New York saxophonist and composer Quinsin Nachoff has carved out a unique career exploring the uncharted territory between the twin worlds of jazz and classical music, in a city that is equally renowned for both. Through an array of fascinatingly diverse projects and collaborations, always pushing at the boundaries of genre, he has intrepidly explored the possibilities of combining the textural and compositional possibilities of the symphonic tradition with the passion and freedom of jazz.
These inspirations come together on Pivotal Arc, his 2020 release on Whirlwind Recordings, which presents his most ambitious project yet.
The album brings together virtuoso violin soloist Nathalie Bonin with a jazz-inflected unit featuring two established giants of the NY scene, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, alongside the stunning young vibraphone player Michael Davidson, and adds a wind and string ensemble conducted by JC Sanford. A Violin Concerto and the large ensemble titular work boldly mix written and improvised sections, interspersed with a String Quartet performed by the renowned Molinari String Quartet.
The result is three diverse long-form works that flow naturally together, demonstrating Nachoff’s equally heartfelt facility with the free-flowing language of jazz improvisation, the depth and rigour of classical composition, and the direct melodicism of folk forms.
Read about the inspirations and influences for this album in an article he wrote for the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers.
Nachoff’s canny bandleader’s knack of deploying unusual combinations of similarly boundary-defying musicians in pursuit of his vision was already evident in his remarkable band, Flux, which features the stellar talents of such sympatico artists as saxophonist David Binney, keyboardist Matt Mitchell, and drummers Kenny Wollesen and Nate Wood.
The group’s 2019 album, Path Of Totality, received worldwide acclaim for its ambitious, immersive long-form pieces, including being nominated for a 2019 Juno Award and awarded 4.5 stars in its DownBeat Magazine review, which described the record as “a stunning, deep dive of an album, the sort of music in which one could spend hours submersed.”
Nachoff commissioned six cutting edge filmmakers to create original work in response to Path of Totality.
Watch them here